SANDY, Utah — If not now, when?
It seemed fate was pushing Real Salt Lake toward claiming the U.S. Open Cup and a much-desired return to the CONCACAF Champions League. Everything had gone their way. From winning four coin tosses to claim home-field advantage all the way to the final to enjoying the benefit of lower-division teams pull upsets to line up in their bracket.
Then to reach the final and face D.C. United, the team dead-last in MLS with only three wins in 30 games. The table was set. The plate was there; the silverware all arranged, all they needed was the steak.
But it was not to be. RSL's history of falling short in big games at home continued in a 1-0 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday night.
"It is extremely tough," defender Chris Wingert told reporters in the aftermath. "It feels a little bit surreal, like a bad dream right now. I can't believe it. I'm shocked. I thought for sure we were going to win.
"I can't believe we had to sit there on the field after the game and realize we came up short — again. I don't know if I have the words to describe how tough this is."
The list of their shortcomings is getting longer.
Falling to the New York Red Bulls in the 2008 Western Conference Championship. Unable to overcome a 2-1 first-leg deficit against FC Dallas in the 2010 playoffs with a 1-1 tie at Rio Tinto. A year later, easily the biggest disappointment in falling 1-0 to Monterrey in the CCL final second leg after coming home with a 2-2 tie in Mexico.
And then last fall, losing 1-0 to Seattle in the MLS playoffs after posting a 0-0 tie on the road.
Now Tuesday is the latest chapter, losing another final at home. Why can’t they get over the hump?
"It is something I can't really put my finger on," head coach Jason Kreis told reporters. "How we can get so close and how we can have so much momentum through the majority of the season and we get to get to a game like this and we can't seem to put things together. We can't seem to get over that last hurdle."